Updated 5/05/20 Why isn't the County doing a better job telling people about "illegal" masks?We were one of the very first businesses to require all employees and customers to wear masks, back on April 3rd, long before they were required. But we now find ourselves having to police the type of mask worn. The point to mask requirements, for the stay-in-place order, is to reduce the possibility of an infected person putting a virus into the air, spreading the virus. Many high-tech masks allow this by design, by filtering only air coming into the lungs, not out. This is ideal for pollution or forest fire work, because your lungs don't have to work so hard when you exhale. But they do very little to keep Covid-19 from spreading. So, instead of telling you what you need to know about your bike, we have to explain why we have to keep some masks out of the store. Please don't take it personally. This is not a well-known issue and we got no help from either KTVU or KPIX in spreading the news about this.
Quick repairs no longer possible. And a "No room at the Inn" situation.
Our backlog for repairs is a ridiculous 4 weeks right now! We are able to bring in bikes on an appointment-basis only, where you call in and we set up a day to drop your bike off, and it will be ready a day or two later. For flat tires, we are trying to keep those to a 24 hour turnaround (our preference has always been to do flat tires while you wait; that's just no longer possible). We joke that someone unearthed a couple thousand 30 year old bikes at a nearby archeological dig. Many of these older bikes simply aren't practical to repair
We're also limiting entry to the store. Until this is over, We're having all customers, sales or repairs, wait at the door for us to bring them in individually. The wait for repairs may be a bit longer than the wait for parts & bikes. So far we've done a better job than I expected at making sure we don't miss anyone; this is probably because when we're finished with one customer, we usher in the next.
Below I'll leave a few of the older entries in place, so you can get an idea of how things came to be.
From 3/28 4:37pm: We're planning to open Monday morning at 11am, but there will be some changes. We may be blocking off the entry and screening customers, taking bikes for repair into the shop while the customer waits at the door for the diagnosis. We may be placing a specific limit on the number of customers in each part of the store. We may end up going to an appointment-only scenario for some transactions. In a nutshell, my trips to a few grocery stores, a hardware store and a coffee shop on Sunday showed me that social distancing isn't working in some places and two places in particular, grocery and liquor stores, are almost designed to help spread the virus. Little attention is paid anywhere to cleaning credit card terminals prior to use; in one place, many transactions took place and I never saw the terminal wiped down. It is entirely possible we may soon be requiring all customers to be wearing a mask (one they provide) before allowed entry into the store. And no, I don't know where to get them; we can't find them for our own staff. This is not the way any of us want to do business!!! One of the biggest issues I've seen is that we all go into an automatic mode in a familiar situation and forget about the importance of social distancing etc. But this thing is coming for us, and we have to be as protective as we can of both our staff and customers. --Mike Jacoubowsky, Partner, Chain Reaction Bicycles
Updated 3/28/20 4:05pm: We're 10 days into this, learning more each day, struggling to find the sanitizing supplies required because if we run out of Isopropyl Alcohol or hand sanitizer, we're closed. We can improvise some things, like spraying alcohol on paper towels to wipe credit card machines instead of the individual wipes, but hand sanitizer and Isopropyl Alcohol are indispensable. We're doing triage on a ton of kids bikes, because getting out for a family bike ride seems to keep people sane. Who knew? Makes us feel good. And like everyone else, we're watching the news and wondering where we are on "the curve." And how long before this peaks, and when it starts going down and people feel safer.
Prior update from 3/23: We've survived almost a week of shelter-at-home so far. We've learned that people don't get the 6 foot social distance thing in a retail environment so we're blue-taping off-limits areas, especially in the repair diagnosis area. We've learned that we can't allow people to inflate their tires using our air pumps inside the store; they can still borrow an air pump but it has to be done outside (a couple times Saturday we had multiple people waiting for their turn at the pump, inside the store). We're working on workflow to minimize risk by doing something as simple as sanitizing credit card machines immediately PRIOR to each use, not after. Because you never know for sure if it was done previously.
We've also realized the inconvenient truth. That most every small local business that serves its local community is facing a really difficult choice. Close and lose money, or stay open and potentially lose even more money, as the reduced (or entirely missing) sales during the shelter-at-home don't meet staff wages, much less rent. Most of us will survive this initial 3 week, but if (if?) it's extended another 3 weeks? Or more? The things that make life convenient and even fun, those things that make local local, are all at risk. Small businesses don't get to suffer a $248 billion loss and somehow magically stay in business. We're not "too big to fail."
If you see legislation in the news that is aimed at helping small, local businesses survive, please think about us and support it. In return, we'll support the communities that we've worked with for so many years now, feeling good about our decisions to stay locally-focused because... because that's what we believe in. We've invested in buildings and employees and projects where you live. If you don't live near us, let's say you live in Paducah Kentucky, there's a local shop that is better geared to taking care of you than anyone on-line can. Martha & Hutch are as passionate about their community as we are about ours. As are thousands of local bike shops across the country.
The rest of our previous piece here is pretty much old news by now. Bike shops are officially considered essential for their service to the bicycle as transportation, much of that due to the efforts of many local shops who have lobbied for better cycling infrastructure. Our hours are reduced; 11am-6pm weekdays, because there is no longer an "after work" crowd coming in. Saturdays still 10am-6pm and closed Sundays. Repair work is focusing on what can be done pretty quickly to keep you on the road. Staffing is reduced because we're in a "stay home if feeling not great" mode, knowing that a "cold" is still a thing but you can't be too careful. But we are here to keep you going. It's a relationship that's worked for 40 years. We're doing what we can for many more.
Thank you, Mike & Steve Jacoubowsky, Partners, Chain Reaction Bicycles